March 2nd, 2020
Medical alert systems – also referred to as personal emergency response systems (PERS), medical emergency response systems (MERS), or fall monitors – serve the dual purpose of providing increased independence for our loved ones and peace of mind for family caregivers.
But selecting the system that’s best for your situation can be complicated. Technology keeps advancing, so likewise so do the range of options. Whereas basic systems used to merely be wearable devices with a call button linked to a response center, recent systems now feature advanced safety measures like fall detection and prevention, in-home health and well-being monitors, fitness trackers, and even movement sensors.
With that said, before choosing a medical alert system be sure to evaluate your loved one’s specific needs and abilities – both at present, and also taking into account how things may change in the future. For instance, a condition such as dementia often can make it difficult to understand how to operate a system; and conditions like aphasia can hinder the ability to communicate with a call center.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A MEDICAL ALERT SYSTEM
Old age often comes with a higher susceptibility to accidents. But rather than automatically confining a loved one to a nursing home, or attempting to afford a full-time in-home caregiver, a more amenable and cost-efficient measure could be a medical alert device.
In addition to extra safety and security, medical alert systems provide:
*24/7 monitoring – for ultimate peace of mind
*Immediate emergency assistance – urgent care within minutes
*Convenient communication – at the push of a button
*Multiple service plans – quarterly, monthly, or annual
*Multiple connectivity options – including landline, VoIP. and cellular
*Affordability – annual average costs as low as $240 per year
*Independence for your loved one!
CHOOSING THE BEST OPTIONS
The makers of medical alert systems promise that their products will come to the rescue – whether you’ve fallen and can’t get up, or experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack, stroke, or seizure. But when choosing between popular brands like Life Alert, LifeStation, Medical Alert, MobileHelp, Philips Lifeline, and Rescue Alert, experts recommend making sure the system you choose meets most of these criteria:
*Does it work for the user’s specific disability? For example, a stroke survivor may need a device that can be activated with one hand.
*Does it offer a choice of a wristband and/or neck pendant? Cords around the neck can pose a strangulation risk, and wristbands may aggravate skin ailments.
*Does it include optional wall-mountable help buttons? These are important for when the user falls but isn’t wearing their pendant/wristband.
*Does the monitoring company have its own center? And moreover, one that’s been certified by Underwriters Laboratories?
*What about a battery backup? Because power failures do inevitably happen.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
As with most products and services, beware complicated pricing plans and hidden fees. Look for a company with no extra fees related to equipment, installation, activation, or service and repair, and don’t fall for scams that offer free service or “donated or used” equipment.
Additional things to consider:
*Contracts – Never enter into a long-term contract. Opt instead for monthly fees, which should range between $20 and $90 per month.
*Guarantee & cancellation policies – A full money-back guarantee is ideal, but at the very least make sure they give you a trial period, as well as the ability to cancel at any time without penalty.
*Discounts – Ask what discounts are available, including ones for veterans, membership organizations, medical or care organizations, and also for multiple people in the same household.
*Insurance – Medicaid (but not Medicare) may cover all or part of the cost. Check with your private insurance company to see if it offers discounts or referrals.
*Tax deductions – system costs may be deductible as a medically necessary expense.
Don’t think you can afford a medical alert system? Consider investing in an easy-to-use prepaid flip phone or Smartphone. Or, as a more fashionable alternative to bulky pendants and wristbands, a trackable Smartwatch, with new models capable of alerting loved ones in an emergency, tracking daily activities, and even providing medication reminders.